It’s hard to “discover” anything different from American playwright Arthur Miller’s immensely popular classic, “Death of a Salesman.” The two-act tragedy, premiered on Broadway in February 1949, has been performed in hundreds of languages and thousands of times by the best actors the world has ever seen.
Nothing is new to know, or so it seems.
However, Theaterian’s first production and 14th performance of the famous play provoked the torturous despair of existence and ignited the stage with eclectic performances throughout its 2.5-hour run at the Academy’s National Theater Hall Shilpakala of Bangladesh on Tuesday.
It is curious and equally understandable that this centuries-old and revered classic still draws people to the theater and amazes its recipient with the same repulsive taste of failure, missed opportunities, regrets and life – as a whole, at most . Theaterian is hugely successful in this regard, with a room full of audience members who didn’t hesitate to applaud the performers throughout the broadcast, and it was rightly well deserved.
The plot of the play has all the common elements of Greek tragedy, except when it is not as noble, rich, or boon as Greek tragedies are. “Death of a Salesman” is a tragedy of and for the common man, who suffers all his life for a better future, which he can never obtain. It’s like the predictable ending of the play: the death of the common man after being closely linked to a system of financial exploitation and fraud in a capitalist society.
We all know the story of the play’s protagonist, Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, brilliantly played this time by Tohid Biplob. We meet the exasperated and defeated old Willy, who travels between his memories and the present time in the commission of death. The delusional, almost schizophrenic Willy, who has the enthusiasm and passion of a 19-year-old, who believes he can change his life and fortune but never does.
The cold curtain of death remains a pervasive and dominant theme of the play. However, the notion of this “death” remains inquisitive: is it the physical process of Willy’s death as a person or the death of his prickly, tired but optimistic soul?
Miller’s classic salesman is not about a poor, ordinary man crushed by the demands of his job. It is about the dehumanizing horror of capitalist systems and their heartbreaking inexorability. The play is rooted in a particular cultural and historical mindset and premise of the 20th century postwar United States and its nimble steps in turning away from economic and sociological tragedy to secure a new future radiant. It effectively fails for those who can’t sell themselves enough and, obviously, for our protagonist Willy, properly.
We find Willy (Tohid Biplob) and his wife Linda, superbly played by Poly Chowdhury, having a conversation that moves from love and warmth to extreme shades of rage. As we see Willy as he travels around small towns, driving a vehicle we never see, Linda acts as his soul. He finds in Linda a constant source of stability and support. Poly Chowdhury’s natural charisma and strong background in theater studies give the rest of the magic the character this production needs.
Linda is the lady of the house, after all; she makes the bills, tries to save every dollar to repair the refrigerator, the car, and the roof, and even makes socks that Willy, at one point in his life, traded for his infidelity. But now even Willy himself is starting to worry. He is distracted and likely to lose concentration, becoming increasingly disoriented. He keeps thinking about suicide so that his family, consisting of Linda and her two unemployed sons, will receive the insurance money and live happily after him.
Throughout the play we see how his two sons, Happy, played by Ahmed Sujan, and Biff, played by Mainul Islam Tauhid, try to improve their financial situation to some extent, but for a family long nourished by pride and illusion, the confrontation with failure threatens to overwhelm them all.
Towards the end, we witness the eventual demise of delusional and hopeful salesman Willy Loman, after knocking in vain on countless old and archaic doors, only to realize the truth of his existence. We see Willy taste death in many forms before his eventual physical death, and he killed himself not out of agony but out of truth.
Tohid Biplob said, “I left my corporate job six months ago to internalize this Willy Loman character. You see, this character is not far from us, for example, I took my own father as a guideline for this character. , I tried to follow a mixture of acting methods of Russian theater practitioners Konstantin Stanislavski and Meyerhold to portray this complex character.
He continues: “The character is delusional, schizophrenic, and at the same time rooted in his misery. It was difficult to integrate into this character, and it took time, but I think at the end of the process I “I was able to blend into this character, so much so that it will take me a while to get rid of it.” Biplob received reminders of applause from the audience during his performance on stage.
Poly Chowdhury, who brilliantly played the character of Linda, said, “Linda is a character that all the women around us relate to. Even though everything is falling apart, Linda remains calm, dignified and is a focal point of her life. family, just like our mothers.”
“I don’t believe in traditional acting methods or memorizing lines before each play. Rather, we integrated these situations and dialogues as a part of ourselves and reciprocated, as normally as we do in our daily lives. I think that’s the secret behind the success and relevance of this piece,” Poly continued.
Every element of the production design was so artfully placed; the melancholic background music, clever use of smoke and lighting are testament to how the director of the play, Ashiqur Rahman Leeon, used every arrow in his quiver to make this play an instant hit .
All the performers performed brilliantly, especially the character of Charlie, played by Amirul Mamun, and Ben, played by Abdul Hai.
The play’s director, Ashiqur Rahman Leeon, associate professor at the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, University of Dhaka, said: “Fateh Lohani translated the play and we used the ‘current of awareness” for better progression and understanding. of the room.”
Shahman Moishan, assistant professor at Dhaka University, who came to see the play, said: “I think Theaterian presented an electric theater production. Tragedy and the common man! This is what Arther Miller called for in his initial preface, and it is what remains. always.”
“As an audience, we can relate to the salesman Willy Loman because a salesman lives in each of us. Willy is a representation of how each of us must sell ourselves to persist in this world, and that is why we could relate to his sad life, his despair, his hopelessness and despair,” said Dheeman Chandra Sen, deputy director of the play.
“The story dates from the Great Depression, and it is the story of how the primary elements of a sociological structure inadvertently fail one by one under the guise of capitalism. So what happens to a person who can no longer sell themselves? the director said in his closing remarks.